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For those with mild cases of malocclusion, at-home aligners are safe and effective when used according to the instructions of a dentist or orthodontist.
“Patients with mild cases make excellent candidates for at-home aligner treatment. Also, patients who have demanding work schedules or are worried about making the time for office visits appreciate the independence that comes with this option. Additionally, patients who are very committed to their treatment timeline and will be able to keep themselves on track see the most success with this treatment plan.”Dr. Elvi Barcoma
While most orthodontic and dental professionals agree on the safety of at-home aligner treatment, it does have some critics.
One concern is that at-home aligners have a lower quality of treatment than in-office brands. While remote treatment is more convenient, there is a greater risk of errors when an orthodontist cannot personally examine your bite.
In addition, some cite the fact that at-home aligners are fairly recent, so it’s hard to have solid data on their efficacy.
Nevertheless, most users of at-home aligners seem satisfied with their treatment. One study found that at-home aligners had an 87.5% user satisfaction rate.8
Clear aligners can save you thousands of dollars compared to braces. Learn about clear aligners.
At-home clear aligners are a convenient orthodontic alternative to in-office options like Invisalign and ClearCorrect. They can be used to treat a variety of teeth alignment issues from the comfort of home.
Unlike Invisalign, which involves numerous visits to the dentist or orthodontist, at-home aligner treatment is mostly or entirely remote.
Popular at-home clear aligner brands include:
Another popular clear aligner brand is Candid, which is a hybrid between in-office and at-home treatment.
With Candid, you have to visit a CandidPro Provider (licensed dentist or orthodontist) for initial scans and impressions. The rest of the treatment is monitored remotely, except for one final office visit at the end.
At-home clear aligners mostly follow the same process to begin treatment:
You wear each clear aligner for 22+ hours per day, only taking them off to eat, drink, brush, or floss (or play sports or music.) Every 2 weeks, you’ll switch to the next clear aligner in the series.
During the course of treatment, at-home clear aligners slowly move your teeth into their correct positions. Total treatment time varies depending on the brand and your level of malocclusion (teeth misalignment).
Some at-home brands have telehealth apps, where you check in with a licensed dentist or orthodontist every couple of weeks. You can also use the apps to ask questions about your treatment.
After treatment is finished, the last aligner usually serves as a retainer, which you’ll wear nightly to keep your teeth straight.
SmileDirectClub (SDC) was the first company to introduce at-home aligners back in 2014. As a result, there are more reviews and news articles about SDC than any other brand.
According to an NBC News article from 2020, a few customers reported experiencing bite issues and pain after undergoing SDC treatment. Other significant issues alleged included jaw problems, broken teeth, and nerve damage.
In response, Congress stepped in, asking the Food and Drug Administration and Federal Trade Commission to investigate SDC. California also passed a law mandating all at-home aligner users get an in-office consultation before starting treatment.
Despite all of this, customer reviews for SmileDirectClub are overwhelmingly positive. Most reviews were written by those who had minor teeth alignment issues.
A study from 2020 shows nearly 88% of at-home clear aligner patients report positive treatment outcomes.8 Just 6.6% reported having to visit their dentist or orthodontist to correct an adverse outcome.8
This includes budget at-home aligner brands like NewSmile and AlignerCo.
It should also be noted here that these brands, along with all the at-home aligner brands mentioned:
Most dental professionals prefer in-office treatment over at-home aligners because in-office treatment reduces the chance for error. It's also easier to make adjustments as necessary.
No medical treatment or procedure is risk-free.
However, as long as instructions are followed, at-home clear aligner treatment is reasonably safe and effective for mild-to-moderate cases of malocclusion.
We recommend at-home clear aligners if you have mild teeth misalignment. View our top recommendations.
Here are some tips on how to minimize any risks when doing at-home aligner treatment:
The two best and safest alternatives to in-office clear aligner treatment are:
Byte stands out in the at-home aligner industry for its affordability, strong customer reviews, and fast treatment times (4 to 6 months).
This is made possible with the HyperByte — a device that emits high-frequency vibrations that’s included in every treatment plan. This dental movement acceleration device should be used for 5 minutes a day.
Byte claims that daily use of the HyperByte can shorten treatment time.
Read our article comparing the positives and negatives of the HyperByte and similar vibration-based aligner therapies. We also talk about the risks of moving teeth too fast.
Byte also offers night aligners. These aligners can be worn while you sleep. There are several drawbacks to this option. Aside from being more expensive than their traditional daytime aligners, they take longer to straighten your teeth.
There are also questions regarding how safe it is to move teeth in this way. For this reason, NewMouth recommends using Byte’s All-Day Aligners only.
Byte All-Day Aligners can currently be purchased on Byte’s website for $1,999.
SmileDirectClub (SDC) pioneered the mail-in aligner industry and is still the most widely known. SDC offers both daytime and nighttime clear aligners for thousands less than braces.
There are two ways to begin treatment with SDC. The first option is to visit a SmileShop for a risk-free, in-person scan. Here, a trained technician will take 3D scans of your teeth and ensure you are a good candidate for treatment. The second option is to order an at-home impression kit and send them back.
We recommend SDC if you prefer an in-person scan and have mild to moderate teeth misalignment. They have SmileShop locations all around the U.S. and in other countries.
The aligners cost $2,250 and take between 4 and 6 months (sometimes more) to straighten teeth.
Candid uses a hybrid model of care that combines in-office consultations with the convenience of remote monitoring.
To begin treatment, you must visit a licensed orthodontist or dentist. There’s also one more in-person consultation after treatment ends to make sure there are no issues.
After that consultation, a licensed orthodontist designs and monitors your treatment. Orthodontists specialize in teeth-straightening, giving Candid an added layer of thoroughness to their treatment process.
However, this added thoroughness does come at a price, with Candid aligners being significantly more expensive than Byte. Candid aligners cost $3,300 on average, with factors including your CandidPro provider and where you live impacting the price.
Candid treatment also takes longer (4 to 12 months), and they don’t offer night aligners for safety reasons.
Interested in straightening your teeth at home? Here are the best clear aligner companies.
Invisalign is effective at treating most moderate-to-severe cases of malocclusion.
Braces are particularly effective for complex cases because they can move your teeth more precisely.
This means they can rotate your teeth back into their correct positions. They can also move individual teeth in different directions, unlike most clear aligners.
Some instances where braces may be a better option include:
However, these options also often cost tens of thousands of dollars and are inconvenient for many. For those with mild-to-moderate malocclusion, at-home aligners are a convenient and affordable treatment option.
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